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Wright-Patterson celebrates an essential step in aviation

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFMCNS) -- One-hundred years of practical flight were celebrated Oct. 5 on the grounds Orville and Wilbur Wright used to test their legendary Wright Flyer, launching an aviation era.

Mark Dusenberry, pilot and creator of the world's only exact replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer, revisited the historic moment, 100 years to the day the brothers proved flight was practical.

Col. Andrew K. Weaver, 88th Air Base Wing commander, hosted the event.

"America's dominance of the air began at Dayton and the Huffman Prairie located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and it continues today," he said.

Huffman Prairie was the world's first airfield. The brothers used the field to research and develop their aircraft, and that legacy is evident in the mission of Wright-Patterson.

"Home of the Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Research Laboratory, the Aeronautical Systems Center, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center," Colonel Weaver said. "Wright-Patt educates the next generation of technical leaders, inserts the latest technology into our aircraft, manages the acquisition and flight test of new aircraft, manages the sustainment of our aircraft fleet and provides intelligence to our warfighter."

Following remarks from Brig. Gen. Ted F. Bowlds, Aeronautical Systems Center deputy for acquisition, and retired Maj. Gen. Ed Mechenbier, the cue was given to the crowd that the main event was to begin.

"Let's fly," General Mechenbier said, and spectators rushed to the fence line.

General Mechenbier narrated each step of the process as Mr. Dusenberry prepped the Flyer. Shortly after the engine sounded, the weight within the catapult was dropped and the Flyer traced a portion of the path Wilbur Wright flew on Oct. 5, 1905.

Following a second successful flight, the event culminated with a parade of Wright Flyer and World War I replicas. Following the ceremony, spectators caught a glimpse of how far aviation has come as six F-16 Falcons flew over the field.

"Everything our Air Force does in the air has the fingerprints of Wright-Patterson on it," Colonel Weaver said. "We are proud to continue the heritage the Wright Brothers gave us."